Combined effort helps keep city streets safer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2005

Lawbreakers within the City of Ironton were greeted with some extra flashing lights last weekend.

A combined effort between the Ironton Police Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Investigative Unit cracked down on alcohol and drug violations in city bars and on city streets.

The cooperative effort began as a way to address a problem - intoxicated drivers.

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The highway patrol is engaged in a statewide effort to limit traffic fatalities to less than one per 100 million miles traveled, said Lt. Carl Roark of OSHP's Ironton Post.

&#8220Thus far in 2005, we have had five fatal crashes in the Lawrence County area. Two of those occurred in the city of Ironton and both were alcohol related,” Roark said. &#8220Ideally, the highway patrol (focuses) outside of municipalities and in areas that have no other law enforcement, but when we see a need we offer assistance in saving lives.”

With officers from the Ironton post and across the state, the patrol enforced traffic violations and looked for intoxicated drivers in the city, primarily on Third Street, which does serve as alternate U.S. 52. Fourteen people were arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and approximately 75 traffic citations were issued in Ironton.

On some stops, officers turned up a little more than they expected. Several drug arrests were made including one pound of marijuana seized, the largest seizure by the Ironton Post this year, Roark said.

The OIU, the agency that enforces liquor laws in bars and drinking establishments, also made several arrests for drug and alcohol violations.

&#8220We were looking at alcohol violations in the area and the effects to the community,” said Wade Sagraves, assistant agent in charge for the OIU. &#8220 Š Alcohol seems to be at the heart of the problems.”

The effort went so well that Sagraves and Roark both said it was something they will almost certainly do again.

Mayor John Elam welcomed the assistance to the under-manned IPD, adding that the two alcohol-related deaths certainly serve as a red flag that there may be a problem.

&#8220I think that part of my mission that I serve for the city, is to look at the health, safety and welfare of the residents,” Elam said. &#8220This is a safety issue.”

Roark said the patrol was happy to help, in hopes that it will make the entire county safer place.

&#8220I commend (Interim Chief) Jerry Leach and the IPD for cooperating and working together in this multi-agency enforcement to address the problem,” Roark said.